Civil War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Born in Delafield, Wisconsin, he was one of four brothers to serve in the Union forces during the Civil War. His family moved to Fredonia, New York as a boy, and he was nominated to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1856 by Congressman Francis Smith Edwards. He matriculated into the Academy on July 1, 1857, and soon showed an aptitude for the artillery branch. He graduated in June 1861, placing 12th out of a class of 34 (the top graduate was Patrick O’Rorke, who would go on to command the 140th New York Volunteer Infantry; the bottom graduate was cavalry hero George Armstrong Custer). Commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant, he spent the first two years of the conflict in staff positions, serving first as an Ordnance Officer, then as an Aide-de-Camp on the staff of Major General Edwin V. Sumner, then as an Assistant Topographical Engineer. In the spring of 1863, as the Army of the Potomac under Major General Joseph Hooker refit and reorganized, Lieutenant Cushing was finally given a field assignment, being appointed to command Battery A, 4th United States Regular Artillery, a unit that was made up in large part from men who transferred from volunteer infantry regiments. He implemented training and drill, and his battery was praised for it’s disciplined performance. During the May 1863 Chancellorsville Campaign the unit occupied several positions, but was not heavily engaged in the battle. He led his men in the march towards Gettysburg in May and June, 1863 as the Army of the Potomac followed the Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee as it took the war to the north and invaded Pennsylvania. On July 2, 1863, the Second Day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lieutenant Cushing’s battery was placed on Cemetery Ridge near what became known as the “Copse of Trees”, and was in that position when on July 3, 1863 a tremendous barrage of Confederate artillery opened up on the Union forces on the ridge. The cannonade, which was the pre-curser to the famous “Pickett’s Charge”, mortally wounded Lieutenant Cushing’s second-in-command, knocked out a number of men and horses, two of his artillery pieces, and left him with a severe shoulder wound from a shell fragment. Losing blood, he refused to leave the field, and directed his men as they fought furiously to repel the attacking Confederate wave. Weak from a second wound that tore his stomach open, he was held up by Sergeant Frederick Fuger as he passed on his commands. He was then killed by a final gunshot that passed through his mouth and out the back of his head. He was lain to the ground by Sergeant Fuger, who took command of the battery as it helped finish off the repulse of the attacking Confederates (Frederick Fuger would be awarded the Medal of Honor in 1897 for his bravery that day). After the battle ended Lieutenant Cushing’s remains were transported to his alma mater, and he was buried in the Post Cemetery (five months later another hero of Gettysburg, cavalry general John Buford, would be buried beside him after Buford died of disease in December 1863). Posthumously brevetted to Lieutenant Colonel, US Regular Army, Alonzo Cushing’s monument on his grave would bear the inscription “Faithful Unto Death” by the request of his mother. On November 6, 2014 he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after a 25 year campaign by historians to see his bravery during the Battle of Gettysburg be recognized with the Nation’s highest military honor. His citation for the award reads “That morning, Confederate Forces led by General Robert E. Lee began cannonading First Lieutenant Cushing's position on Cemetery Ridge. Using field glasses, First Lieutenant Cushing directed fire for his own artillery battery. He refused to leave the battlefield after being struck in the shoulder by a shell fragment. As he continued to direct fire, he was struck again, this time suffering grievous damage to his abdomen. Still refusing to abandon his command, he boldly stood tall in the face of Major General George E. Pickett's charge and continued to direct devastating fire into oncoming forces. As the Confederate Forces closed in, First Lieutenant Cushing was struck in the mouth by an enemy bullet and fell dead beside his gun. His gallant stand and fearless leadership inflicted severe casualties upon Confederate Forces and opened wide gaps in their lines, directly impacting the Union Forces' ability to repel Pickett's Charge. First Lieutenant Cushing's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his own life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery, Army of the Potomac, and the United States Army.” In the Gettysburg National Military Park a monument stands for both Battery A, 4th United States Artillery and for Lieutenant Cushing on Cemetery Ridge. His younger brother William Barker Cushing was a Union Naval hero.
Bio by: RPD2